POLITICAL LANDSCAPE:

A flurry of bills introduced this week heralded the start of the 111th Congress.

Representatives from across the country introduced hundreds of pieces of legislation since the U.S. House of Representatives convened Tuesday.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff was responsible for at least two, cosponsoring one bill and individually introducing another.

H.R. 175, which Schiff introduced with Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, from Arizona, would expand the federal government’s ability to purchase solar, wind and other alternative energies for government buildings.

The measure, introduced Tuesday, would repeal a law that limits government energy contracts to 10-year periods that Schiff called an “antiquated provision which hinders the government’s ability to purchase green energy.”

On Thursday, Schiff introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation’s highest honors, to the Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The World War II-era troops, commonly referred as the “Go For Broke” regiments, are the most decorated U.S. military units of that war but have never been honored with Congress’ highest medal.

“It is long past due that Congress recognize their heroic efforts,” Schiff said.

Democrats gather for district elections

Hundreds of Democratic delegate-hopefuls from across the state will gather this weekend for their party’s biennial district elections. Thirty-one applicants from the state’s 43rd District, which includes Burbank and Glendale, and 34 candidates from the 44th District of La Crescenta and beyond will vie for 12 spots in each district to help lead their party.

The nominating process aims to select delegates for the California Democratic Party’s convention, slated for April 24 to 26 in Sacramento. Twelve delegates from each of the state’s 80 Assembly districts will be selected at nominating contests throughout California on Saturday and Sunday, with those winners serving two-year terms.

As delegates, residents will vote for their party’s chair, serve on various caucuses and help engineer the Democratic platform for the coming years.

The elections can be energetic as candidates vie for open spots through various forms of electioneering, but the contests are mostly civil, said Brian Brokaw, a spokesman for the California Democratic Party.

“People realize we’re on the same team,” he said.

The 43rd and 44th District races take place Sunday in Burbank and Pasadena, respectively. The Burbank contest, at the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees office at 2520 W. Olive Ave., is slated for noon. Pasadena’s affair will take place at 10 a.m. at the Jackie Robinson Center at 1020 N. Fair Oaks Ave.

“There is a total cross-section of Democrats,” Brokaw said. “You have young and old and now, many college students. This year in particular, we are seeing a lot of people who, prior to the Obama campaign, weren’t involved in the process but now have become involved.”

Burbank resident Janet Reynolds, president of the Burbank Democratic Club, is gunning to be one of the 12 delegates from the 43rd District.

Reynolds, 64, has never served as a delegate but felt pressed to run by what she considers to be exceedingly important events that demand her party’s attention.

“Many of us are really concerned with what’s going to happen in local areas with schools and teachers,” she said.

As a delegate, Reynolds said she plans to press her elected official — Assemblyman Paul Krekorian — on “keeping good government running” and on “making sure all of us are insured.”

Other candidates from the 43rd District include Krekorian’s chief of staff, Adrin Nazarian, and Burbank resident Lee Wochner, founding president of the Burbank Democratic Club.

Candidates from the 44th District include labor organizers, graduate students, professional political operatives and local politicians from Pasadena and Highland Park.

“Now more than ever, the Democratic Party must return to the principles once used under the Franklin D. Roosevelt presidency,” said Mark Samet, a candidate in the 44th District. “Now more than ever, local leaders, delegates and members of the party must begin to think nationally and globally about how to solve and emerge from local crises.”

Obama calls for new economic stimulus

President-elect Barack Obama issued a dramatic declaration Thursday to kick-start the financial system and invigorate local economies.

Obama called on Congress to “modernize more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills.”

“In the process,” he added, “we will put Americans to work in new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.”

The president-elect also vowed to “rebuild America” by repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools. He promised to eliminate the “backlog of well-planned, worthy and needed infrastructure projects.”

But what that means for Burbank and Glendale was unclear. Obama has said local lawmakers are not to tack on their own economic recovery packages, though states could be in line for some funds.

“Obama has been clear — no earmarks in the stimulus package,” Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman said. “However, if there are going to be earmarks, I will fight for Burbank and the rest of the San Fernando Valley and select projects in consultation with city officials.”

Sherman voted against the Democratic-led $700-billion economic recovery package last year, but has made clear that the country needs a financial shot in the arm.

“I see a sharp distinction between bailouts and the need for economic stimulus to revive the overall economy,” he said. “The key difference between the financial industry bailout, which I opposed, and the auto industry bailout, which I supported, was the fact that one was $700 billion and the other was around $14 billion. The auto industry bailout was needed to maintain the viability of that critical industry and its jobs.

“[A] massive stimulus is needed.”

— Jeremy Oberstein


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